McLeod appeases Beaulieu, fires valued public servant

by Jack Danylchuk
EDGE Online
Friday, August 22, 2014

There are lots of ways to get fired, but doing your job isn’t usually one of them, unless you work for the Government of the Northwest Territories.

That’s what Sheila Bassi-Kellett discovered after she was fired as deputy minister responsible for Human Resources on August 1.

According to an EDGE YK source, it happened after her boss, Minister Tom Beaulieu, told Premier Bob McLeod that he had to choose between the highly regarded administrator with 25 years of service, and himself, recently forced out of the Health portfolio by discontented MLAs.

The issue was not Bassi-Kellett’s competence, recently recognized for a job well done by no less an expert on these matters than Premier McLeod himself.

The GNWT confirmed that in a press release issued today. It belatedly thanked Bassi-Kellett, and said she was fired “without cause…There is no suggestion that her dismissal (was) related to her performance.”

Beaulieu wanted her out because he was upset about how the department handled a hiring situation in which he had a preferred candidate. Questioned about the details, Bassi-Kellett declined comment on her dismissal.

Instead of telling the minister to simmer down, McLeod knuckled under, sticking taxpayers with the tab for Beaulieu’s ultimatum.

As a senior public servant with a long and unblemished record, Bassi-Kellett is in line for two years salary, but that’s paltry compensation for the destruction of a successful career far from over.

EDGE YK’s source said the Bassi-Kellett saga has sent a chill through the public service. Senior administrators serve at the government’s pleasure (code for we can fire you any time we want) but employers usually have the grace to make the departure painless for everyone.

When the Bassi-Kellett story makes the rounds, competent public servants might be inclined to cross the GNWT from their list of possible career moves.

Fire threat to Yellowknife, real and imagined

story and photo by Jack Danylchuk
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
EDGE Online

Minister Michael Miltenberger was quick to blame public anxiety over wildfires on uninformed social medial commentators, but his own words and statements on the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s website have done as much to fan the flames.

In an interview with CBC radio last week, the minister marveled at how quickly one fire advanced: 1.5 km in 10 minutes. “An unheard of rate,” Miltenberger said. “We have to be incredibly responsive. Things are changing in some instances hourly if not by the minute.”

Experience this year has “reinforced what we’ve seen for a number of years, fire seasons are starting earlier, and lasting longer. The level of drought has broken all records; fire behavior is changing and that is the new norm,” Miltenberger said.

So far in 2014, more than 300 fires have burned almost 3-million hectares of forest. As of last week, the bill for fire suppression was at $36 million, and accumulating at $1 million a day. If the season continues into September, the tab could hit $50 million. Much of that will leave the territory with imported fire crews and aircraft.

Miltenberger’s attack on social media commentators – in which he claimed “the ill-informed were pontificating to the uninformed” – came as firefighters and aircraft grappled with Fire 85, a blaze burning up the forest 27 kms west of Yellowknife. Amateur fire-watchers could do the math as well as the minister. Fire 85 could reach the city gates in just three hours. The government’s own website is no less alarmist.

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Forest Fires: In a crisis, less (information) is not more

On EDGE: Opinion
by Jack Danylchuk
Friday, August 8, 2014
EDGE Online

Forest fire season didn’t get my attention until mid-July, the time in a normal year when rain quenches fires sparked by early summer electrical storms and wind carries away the smoke that can leach the heat from the warmest day.

This year has been anything but normal. Instead of rain, dry electrical storms swept across the territory, setting off small fires that grew into cells and vast complexes that gorged on the tinder dry forest, filled the sky with smoke and blotted out the sun.

The fires burned into the dog days – rich fuel in the slowest time of year for news media that spread breathless reports of communities threatened, or evacuated. The public joined in with pictures of vast, anvil-shaped clouds of smoke and fire raging at the edge of the forest in a long, livid line.

What finally piqued my interest was a report that fire was “at the city limits,” where a large fuel dump and the airport are situated. I rode out on Highway 3 toward Behchoko, and rode, and rode and rode. There was no fire. Soon after, it was reported that a blaze was 10 km from the city, and then seven. Wrong, and wrong again.

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Issue 15: August/September 2014

Need a smoke break? We hear you. After you’ve finished your rain dance, why not check out the August/September issue of EDGE YK, guaranteed to quench your thirst for YK-focused stories, photos and art you just won’t find anywhere else.

Recently crowned CBC Canada Writes winner Patti-Kay Hamilton shares a tale about a drug search in an Old Town shack in the ’70s, Jack Danylchuk takes you on a search for polar bear diamonds and we introduce you to photographer Carole Musialek. Plus we dish on who has the best travel rewards program if you just want to skip the closed highway and fly away from it all…and much more.

Before you click on Carole’s cover image above or download a PDF here, enjoy poet Matt Fournier’s flame-inspired Forest Fire Days:

Life is a movie in sepia
Hidden under curtains of smoke.
The sun is a bloodshot eye
Making the day a hangover.
It hangs like the orange tip
Of a cigarette,
Round and glowing as if it were
A harvest moon.
And it’s as if the smoke is the result of
God lighting up.
Everyone below is ready to leave,
To evacuate,
With stinging eyes,
Heavy lungs,
Wrinkled noses.
Walking around in a stupor
Of oxygen deprivation
And asking
What’s the plan?
What’s the plan?
Who knows the plan?
Someone is holding out on them,
And like God,
Only he or she knows the plan.

From artistic heaven towards bureaucratic hell

On EDGE: Opinion
by Brent Reaney
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
EDGE Online

As a magazine publisher, we think about stuff like trademark, copyright and intellectual property a little more than most. When Courtney Holmes submitted the “little tree” concept that would eventually become our December/January 2013 cover, we loved it right away:

But we also thought there would be some sort of trademark held over the iconic air freshener. Checking into it, on their website we found a clear and valid explanation for why you can’t use the shape of the air freshener in just about anything.

But then we saw this:

Then again, lawyers make enough money as it is. If you really want to use one of our trademarks, why not ask us first? We have often said yes. Just ask the people behind many of the movies, TV shows and advertising campaigns that have featured our brands.

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EDGE YK Solstice Slam - Saturday, June 21

Click on the event poster above to RSVP on the Facebook event page.

Taking the FREE bus to the FOTR site? Here’s the schedule for the evening:

From City Hall to FOTR Site: 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

From Coyote’s to FOTR Site: 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and 12 a.m.

The last bus will leave the FOTR site, dropping people off at the Coyote’s parking lot and then City Hall, at 2:30 a.m.

Issue 14: June/July 2014

Our June/July issue is now online. Click on Tim Van Horn's cover image to read the issue or download a .PDF here.

We know these are the warmest, longest, days of the year in YK, so we appreciate your desire to get outside and enjoy them. This issue will inspire you beyond the requisite camping trips.

There’s EDGE YK’s guide to best outdoor dates, an invitation to our FREE Solstice Slam dance party, after-work canoe trips and lots more, including a who’s who look at who’s making waves in Yellowknife’s social media scene. Read on…

T-Bo was truly an original

by Brent Reaney
EDGE YK Online
April 16, 2014

I’ll be clear off the top that this is not an obituary. It’s a reflective post based on my memories and experiences with Francois Thibault, AKA T-Bo.

I don’t know the story of his final days or more than most people did about the artist’s personal life. T-Bo died recently and, as the publisher of this magazine, I regret not working harder to have someone interview him. We also wanted to ask him to write his own story, but weren’t able to connect before he passed away.

I’ll never forget when he told me he was dying. I’d emailed to see if he wanted to make changes to the ad for his jewellery shop in the April/May issue, and he called me back right away.

"We might have to change the plan for this one," he said in his usual raspy voice, but sounding as if he had a cold. "I’m dying."

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YK Pizza Meltdown Update: Main Street vs. Diamante

by Mariella Amodio
EDGE YK Online
April 7, 2014

A new restaurant, Main Street Pizza, just appeared on YK’s pizza delivery scene. Unfortunately, it opened after EDGE YK had a taste test of other pizza places (see YK’s Pizza Meltdown in the April/May issue), the winner of which was Diamante.

That’s why I have been invited by the magazine to taste it and judge it. At this point, I think I need to introduce myself. My name is Mariella and I’m an Italian living in Yellowknife. My nationality made me a perfect jury member, or rather, The Judge. As an Italian living abroad, I never expected to find here, in the deep North, the real Italian pizza. After all, I want to explain to you North American people what pizza means for me.

Pizza is not junk food or something that you can eat at 3 a.m. That is poutine. Pizza is a delicious and healthy food. You can have it for lunch or dinner. It’s a complete meal and it is suggested even if you are on a diet.

The most popular one in Italy is the Margherita: topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Tomato sauce is usually homemade made from fresh tomatoes, it’s not a thick tomato paste that comes in small cans. Mozzarella cheese is a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk or Italian buffalo’s milk, it’s not a “synthetic” cheese. Green basil is fresh and you lay it on top, it has to be fresh and it’s not pesto. All those ingredients are layered up on a thin, crisp crust that should be cooked in a wood-fired oven. That said, I was not expecting this kind of pizza here in Yellowknife.

I had to taste pizza from two different places here in town, one was Diamante – the winner from the competition that had taken place a few weeks ago at EDGE YK – and the other one was the new Main Street Pizza.

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Issue 13: April/May 2014

Our April/May issue is now online. Click on James Mackenzie’s cover photo to read the issue, or download a .PDF here.

The April/May issue is, hands down, our oddest to date. We didn’t plan it that way, but contributors seemed a bit fixated with weird animal stories - elephants racing down Franklin, a St. Bernard drooling on the Royals, advice on how to ‘untuffen’ muskox meat.

Non-animalistic content includes Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox’s commentary on devolution and Jack Danylchuk’s Edgeitorial on the extended term MLAs voted themselves. Jennifer Hunt-Poitras makes her EDGE YK debut with a story on the healing power of music and Loren McGinnis deconstructs the reality behind reality TV. There’s lots more, including an EDGE YK breakdown on who has the best delivery pizza in town, and it’s not Delissio.